Celtics' Szczerbiak scores 22 in loss to former team

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Few people mentioned Marcus Banks in last week's seven-player deal between Minnesota and Boston.

On Monday night, it was Banks who made it look like the Timberwolves got the better of a trade headlined by Ricky Davis and Wally Szczerbiak.

Banks had a season-high 20 points and six assists to lead a strong showing by all four former Celtics in Minnesota's 110-85 victory.

Mark Blount added 16 points and 10 rebounds to support Kevin Garnett's 15 points and nine rebounds.

On Thursday, the Timberwolves sent Szczerbiak, centers Michael Olowokandi and Dwayne Jones and a conditional first-round pick to the Celtics for swingman Ricky Davis, Blount, Banks, forward Justin Reed and two second-round picks.

Banks was considered by some to be a throw-in player, but he delivered a game-changing performance.

"I'm pretty sure they knew what they were doing when they got me," Banks said.

Szczerbiak had 22 points, but that wasn't enough to overcome a spirited effort from the ex-Celtics.

Banks, a disappointment in two years with Boston, said he was eager for a fresh start in Minnesota. He dazzled on Monday night, spearheading a 9-0 run to end the third quarter that included a spectacular jump pass to Davis, who had nine points, five rebounds and five assists, for a fast-break dunk.

The Timberwolves have been aching for a true point guard since trading Sam Cassell in the offseason, and when Garnett was asked if he liked what he saw from Banks, he said, "I didn't like it. I loved it."

The crowd loved it too, cheering heartily throughout -- for the new-look Wolves and their old favorite Szczerbiak.

Szczerbiak, who spent his first seven seasons in Minnesota, received a standing ovation upon being introduced before the game.

Signs reading, "WS: Gone but not forgotten," "We Want Wally Back!" and "Give me Back My Wally World!" were spotted. The Timberwolves' scoreboard operator got a little confused, too. After Szczerbiak made two free throws in the first quarter, he played a sound effect that is normally reserved for the home team.

Looking a little tired from the whirlwind weekend that included the birth of his second child, Amberlee, on Monday afternoon, Szczerbiak made six of 15 shots, but went 9-for-9 from the free-throw line.

He embraced Garnett at center court before tip-off, drawing another cheer from the crowd that has read reports for years of the shaky relationship between the team's two stars.

"It was strange," said Szczerbiak, who twice went to shake hands with former teammates after a good shot. "But I've been really out of it these last three days."

Olowokandi, however, was not as warmly received. Criticized heavily in Minnesota for his hefty salary and light production, he was booed every time he touched the ball.

After that, the former Celtics put on a show for ex-coach Doc Rivers.

Blount was active in the paint, Banks was electrifying on several drives to the basket and even Reed jump-started a few fast breaks by catching long outlet passes from Garnett.

"They really came in to show us, prove a point, whatever you want to say," Rivers said. "They came in and played great, so just give them credit. ... But their performance didn't sway me at all with the trade. The trade was a tremendous trade for us and, hopefully, a good trade for them. One thing about Mark and all of them, I hope they do well. I just didn't want them to do well against us."

The Wolves shot 57 percent from the field and held Paul Pierce to 7-for-23 shooting. Pierce finished with 21 points and the Celtics lost their fifth straight road game.

Minnesota has had difficulty closing out teams for most of the season, including losing a 19-point lead to Philadelphia in a loss last week.

But Banks scored on a drive to the basket, then knocked down a jumper for a 90-65 lead to start the fourth quarter, handily outplaying Boston point guards Delonte West and Orien Greene.

"I wanted to really show them what I can do," Banks said. "Me and D-West and Green are pretty good friends, but my game is totally different from theirs. ... Basically I got the best of them tonight."

Game notes
Olowokandi had two points in four minutes. ... Even Szczerbiak's return wasn't enough to boost the Timberwolves sagging attendance. There were plenty of seats available in the announced crowd of 17,003. The Wolves rank 26th in the NBA in attendance. ...
Reed had nine points.


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